Jake Elston revealed as Freddie Falcon

The best decision I ever made while going to BGSU was applying to be Freddie Falcon, and that will forever hold true. This university is a place unlike any other, especially when seen through the eyes of Freddie. This experience gave me the opportunity to give back to the place that became a second home to me as soon as I stepped foot on campus my freshman year. The main take-away that I have from being a bird was how simple it is to make somebody’s day. You never know what someone might be going through, and by simply giving them a high-five or a Freddie hug, it can change their entire mood. There have been a number of events I have been able to do throughout my time as a bird that have really stood out to me. I could go on and on about every single event I might have done, but I’m going to do my best and limit it to my top three.

One event that stuck out to me where I really felt like I made an impact, was over the summer at the Wood County Fair. Even though we were only there for a very brief time, it is one of those events that I am never going to forget. While it may have just started off with Frieda beating me in a carnival game, things would quickly change. With so many kids running all over the place, I could just tell this was going to be quite the experience. 

Going down the main walkway, there were so many people that quickly noticed our presence and wanted pictures or a small opportunity to interact with us. I cannot even put into words the feeling that you get when a little kid comes running up to you to give you a hug, and then walks away with the biggest smile on their face. While it’s understandable for some little kids to be afraid of mascots, just seeing their sibling or friend interact with us helped them to open up to us. In fact, there were these kids working a booth at the end of the walkway, volunteering their time for their respective organization, and they were practically fighting over who could make Freddie and Frieda’s milkshake (of course I had to get a Strawberry Milkshake). After retrieving our special treat and saying our goodbyes, I took a moment to just look around the fair and thought to myself, “Wow, I’m really doing this right now.” After the event was over, I realized the simplicity that it takes for us as mascots to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Continuing along my bird journey came an event around the holiday season in the winter time, which was called Holidays with The Falcons. Each year, this event allows the athletes and other people to purchase toys for children around the area. Walking into the field house I just had a gut feeling that this event was really going to be something special. While kids began to unwrap their toys in their respected areas across the football field, I was gonna do my best to make sure every child had an opportunity to interact with either Frieda or myself. Seeing their faces light up as they opened up their gifts was really heart-warming. I remember a group of kids that happened to be playing with a remote control car, and at one point it ran right into my foot, catching me off-guard. Being the dramatic person I am, I then proceeded to fall to the ground and pretend to crawl away as if it were a serious injury. I could hear the kids laughing and having the time of their lives as they found it hilarious how their little toy car could take down somebody of my stature. 

However, the best part of the story came when a little girl ran up to me to see if I was okay, as she was genuinely concerned to see if I was actually hurt or not. She proceeded to help me up off the ground and made sure to let her brothers know to be more careful not to hit her friend Freddie. As soon as she said this, I couldn’t help but smile because of how caring this little girl was. The holiday season really is one of the best times of the year, and to all the little kids at this event, especially the little girl that was looking out for me, I hope I was able to bring joy and happiness to them on this special day. While they may look back and remember this as one of their favorite childhood memories, just like them, I will never forget this time that we got to share together.

The last event that I would like to mention was a summer kids camp. There happened to be a little boy sitting at a table all by himself. When I went over to him, he seemed kinda shy, but after giving him a high-five and acting like the goofball I am, he quickly got excited and ran to get his playing cards. He came back with a card game similar to Slapjack and what shocked me is that this little boy let me win, every single time. I was so confused, because I know as a kid I always wanted to win, but he seemed content with just being able to sit there and play cards with his new best friend Freddie Falcon. When leaving, he gave me the biggest hug and told me he couldn’t wait to see me again next year at the summer camp. These are just a few examples throughout this past year where I have had the opportunity at making someone’s day, and that is exactly what makes being Freddie so special.

Everybody has a different version of family, and I’m proud to say that I was able to join a new one this past year. Along our journey, we received an immense amount of support from bird alumni, which really helped show me what this group was all about. As far as our advisors go, you will never meet people that care about you more than what we had. This is why I would like to take this opportunity to share a bit of gratitude to our advisors from this past year. Tyler Strom, Jacob Clemens, and Jon Zachrich: thank you for all your support and guidance this entire year, and allowing us to reach our full potential. While our journey may have been cut short, I am proud of every single moment being Freddie Falcon. It has been the greatest honor representing BGSU. A good way to put this experience in perspective would be to think of it in terms of a book, and this past year as Freddie is just another chapter in my lifelong story. Not only can I not wait to see what the future holds for this incredible bird family, but also where my next chapter might lead me. Talons Up!

 

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